1. astrostu
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    astrostu Member

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    How to Not Make a World Seem Empty

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by astrostu, Nov 29, 2011.

    This is similar but different to another thread in this forum ... different enough that I'm making a new one. :)

    The query is how to not make a world seem empty. You have your main character(s), a few supporting characters, and then maybe a few targeted tertiary characters that the others interact with. But, in reality, the tertiary and "extras" characters should FAR out-number the main and secondary.

    For example, your main character is at a restaurant with their significant other (main, secondary/supporting). They may be seated by a nameless host, order from a nameless waiter, and have to talk over the din of 100 other people. I may be seeing all that in my mind when I write out the scene, but how do I get the readers to subconsciously acknowledge that, yes, it's not just these two people in an otherwise empty restaurant?

    Another example could be walking down the street. Main character walks down the street in the early morning and goes into a store. Right there, I've completely isolated the main character and the world seems empty.

    What methods/techniques do you use for filling your world without making it seem as though you're trying too hard?
     
  2. Pea
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    Pea super pea!

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    "He leaned in and spoke louder to be heard over the din of the thirty other people chattering away in the restaurant."

    Bam.
     
  3. Prolixitasty
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    Prolixitasty Member

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    Use lines like the one suggested, "busy people passed as they spoke under the glow of a rising sun". It's not as difficult as you might think. To be honest, when people read their imagination envisions the scene, and only because you wrote "they ate together in a restaurant" doesn't mean I'm going to imagine two people alone in a restaurant. I should be able to rely on the imagination of my reader, sometimes.

    If I wrote, "she sat alone at a table in the restaurant"... you can either think she's completely alone in the building, which is extremely lonely, or, that there are other people sitting at other tables. Which one is more likely?
     
  4. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    I am not sure I do understand what you mean.
    It is not possible to have characters without having a world already packed with stuff.
    It is a well known fact that humans are natural hoarders and the life we live in jam packed with stuff.
    The reader'smind is already instinctively loaded with imageries from reality you would be surprised that some might enjoy the fact that the story they are reading is less ''packed''.
    For me it is important that a book is anything but reality.
    It is nice to have something different for a change.
    I would not worry about wether your stroy is as it were'' full''.
     
  5. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Noise--cell phones ringing, crying kids, the TV on above the bar, glasses clinking, someone signing happy birthday, cars going by with lights glaring through the window. A name carved into a table top.
     
  6. Dresden260
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    Dresden260 Corrupt Diplomat

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    The waiter walked past them and tripped over a loose tile fling the food in a wide radius. Several customers shouted in surprise and disgust as the hot food landed on them. Ignoring all of this He leaned in closer to his friend and shouted something in his ear. No one could hear them even if he was using a megaphone. People chatted in the background cursing broke through a couple of times as angry customers argued for free meals and free dry cleaning.
     
  7. JPGriffin
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    JPGriffin Senior Member

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    It seems like you need to just incorporate the less important background noise and actions that you'd see in the person's shoes. For example:

    "He looked into the bar, beyond the line of customers waiting for tables. He mentioned to the hostess that he was meeting a friend, and proceeded into the cluttered bar. He took the bar stool across from the largest T.V. where the (Insert sports team) were getting pummeled by the (Insert rival sports team). The man next to him glowered in disgust as his team made another costly slip-up, and the other team pulled further ahead. (The MC) ignored him, keeping an eye on the door for his friend to come."

    Each place should have its own feel, probably complementing the feelings of the MC. This above would be great if the MC was worried, with a lot of stress from numerous situations. Maybe a problem at work, or maybe an issue with a relative or loved one. Even if you don't mention more details later on, it's now understood that the bar and/or restaurant is a cluttered place, with a bit of a foul mood to it. If you slip in another detail later on, just as a small break in the MC's actions, such as the waitress making her way through crowded tables, that should reinforce the idea of a constantly busy place, with maybe a somewhat loud crowd to it, as, say, the man begins to get mad at his failing sports team, or another pair or group enters boisterously. It's just a matter of presenting first, then spacing the details out later.
     
  8. FoxPaw
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    FoxPaw Senior Member

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    As a reader, I already subconsciously insert random-background people when it's mentioned the character is doing something in a place that would otherwise be populated by many people anyway. The only way I'd think otherwise is if the author specifically mentioned that "the streets were as empty as a ghost town" or "the restaurant was unusually barren for the lunch time-rush hours" or somesuch.

    As a writer, I usually just make an off-handed sentence to set the setting if I want to draw attention to the fact that it's a lively place. See Pea's post for an example.
     
  9. ScreamsfromtheCrematory
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    ScreamsfromtheCrematory Member

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  10. icenine
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    Sometimes all you have to do is off er a few pertinent details to spike the readers interest and let the readers mind fill in the rest.
     
  11. Pink-Angel-1992
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    Pink-Angel-1992 Active Member

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    I'm not an experienced writer, but I personally think it's reather easy in how a would can be filled and brought to life, but the problem you be chosing the right words for the desired effect you want. It just adding some describtion I think. For example, to make this scene less empty you could write something such as:

    '[Main character] walked down the bustlying street, eyes squined with the early morning sun in his face. "Excuse me," he said, passing between two men heading in the oposite direction. Saying hello to the young woman sweeping the sidewalk, he headed in side the shop.'

    or for something more like a mystery or adventure you could have:

    '[Main Character] walked down the deserted street of the town she'd just stumbled upon that early morning. The wind blow strong, ruslessing tree leaves and she could hear animals all around her, but the town was quite of human. Turning to the next deserted street, she opened the door to a store like building and called for life inside.'

    Sorry if there are any spelling mistakes, I'm not good at that, but I hope that these two examples helped. I don't know what type of story your writing, so I try giving two sinarios. I hope but seem less empty.
     

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